Blue Suns, Yellow Skies

At six, my sister claimed she remembered birth,

that moment the scalpel sliced across our mother’s abdomen

and pried open the flesh to expose

her miniature body held inside.


The first thing you know

is how cold the world feels,

she said, nestled inside a sleeping bag

covered with blankets, gripping

her stuffed lion,

You either have to find that warmth again

or try to forget it.


Maybe that’s why she curled into

her first boyfriend’s body

at fifteen, a question mark in darkness,

until she felt an oppressive heat,

kicked the covers off both their bodies,

and told him she needed to get out,

though when he threatened

to leave permanently, she only said, But I need,

I need, through tears.


Or perhaps it explains how her rage

started to match our mother’s

as they rolled on the kitchen floor,

clenching hair, slamming each other’s heads

against the wooden cupboards,

my sister crying out,

bitch,  fuck-up, I hate you—

words my mother had slung

at her as long as she could remember—

red faced, scrunched and screaming

as each blow drove them farther from

that first trapped dependency.


I pick up one of the books she wrote

when she claimed her keen memory—

misspelled words scrawled in crayon

beneath suns colored blue and skies colored yellow,

and even the book itself, inverted,

so you had to turn it backwards to begin,


as if my sister always knew

that to understand anything,

you must distort your normal perceptions,

start at the end,

and painstakingly search for the beginning.


The Side Of The Road

A deer, writhing

by the side of the road,

neck arched up and twisting,


as if pinned by some invisible hand—

we stumble upon it

dumbfounded as we confront


its mashed organs,

a red juiced glaze

on the concrete.


The fur’s matted with blood,

torn apart like cloth ripped

open by a pair of urgent hands.


(Do all things have this dormant

force beneath surfaces,

waiting to explode?)



hard to sustain even a glance,

which is why we look away,


avoid what’s inevitable,

though we can’t now,

can we?


The deer lifts

its head, mouth agape.

I didn’t expect silence,


thought it would scream

a cry akin to human grief.

What do we do?


You shrug. What is there to do

but leave it here to die?

I put my head on your shoulder.


(How many times have I sought

solace there?) I can’t, I can’t, I can’t. I cry.

How can you turn away?


It’s not the deer anymore, is it?

Just look into the terror-stare of those

black eyes, the trembling


torso, immobile legs collapsed

like a puppet tossed aside—there will never

be a time when love is easy for us again.


I put my hand in yours, Please, Do I need to say it?

Do you need anymore proof

that we’re past the point of miracles?


There will be no resurrection today.

Please… You flinch, jerk

your hand from mine,


You can’t ask me to do that.

Perhaps you’re imagining

the grace of the deer in the woods


before all this, its body springing

from the slightest sound, its sprint

through the brush, leaves trampled


like petals scattered at a wedding march.

Perhaps you need to hold that image a moment

before you can reconcile


what must be done. But there’s no time,

we can’t let it linger. If you’ll just

hand me the gun, then I’ll do it.


I’ll shoot it for both of us.

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